office worker using hula hoop
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1. You Bank on Your Workout

Do you exercise? That’s great. But if you sit down for most of the rest of your day, that’s a problem. You need to be active all day long. Little bursts count. If you have a desk job, take a short walk every hour to boost your circulation, even if it’s just to your break room and back. Binge-watching your favorite show? Get up and dance, or do push-ups during the commercials.

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lazy young man watching tv
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2. You Say 'I’m Too Young'

Don’t wait to work on keeping your heart healthy. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, and know your numbers -- blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  The ideal time to do your heart a favor is now.

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women toasting with wine
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3. One Drink Too Many

For most people, moderate drinking (one a day for women, up to two daily for men) is OK. A daily drink may even have some benefits for the heart. But more than that can raise levels of certain fats in the blood, and raise blood pressure, too. That’s especially true if you have several drinks at a time. So stick to your daily limit.

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mediterranean salad and salmon
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4. You Dis a Good-for-You Diet

You may think it’s going to be all oat bran, all the time. Surprise! There’s no reason for your food to be bland and boring. A Mediterranean-style diet has delicious foods like olive oil, nuts, fruit, whole grains, fish, lean protein, and red wine. It helps keep your heart healthy, thanks to the “good” fats, fiber, and nutrients. Plus, you’ll actually want to stick to this diet because it tastes so good!

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blood sample being drawn
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5. You Don’t Know Your Numbers

Pop quiz: What’s your cholesterol level? How about your blood pressure? No clue? That’s risky. They could be too high without you knowing. (You could feel just fine and have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.) So protect yourself. Starting at age 20, make sure you see your doctor regularly and create a plan to check and track your numbers.

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man measuring waist
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6. Waist Not

Belly fat is particularly bad for your heart. So get your tape measure and size up the inches around your waist. It's a red flag if it's more than 35 inches around for women or 40 inches for men. Need to slim down? Take it step by step. Even losing a small amount of weight is good for your heart. 

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talk therapy
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7. You Ignore Your Blues

When you feel low, it’s hard to do things that are good for you, like exercise. If you have felt down for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Talk therapy, exercise, and medication (if needed) can improve your mood so you have more energy to take care of yourself.

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man smoking on balcony
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8. You Blow Off Secondhand Smoke

Someone else’s smoke could hurt your heart and blood vessels. You need to avoid it. If you spend a lot of time with someone who isn’t ready to quit smoking, insist that they at least not smoke around you, whether it’s at home, work, or in your car.  Your tough love may be the nudge they need to kick the habit, which will be good for both of you.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 02/04/2020 Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on February 04, 2020


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American College of Cardiology: “Study Bolsters Link Between Heart Disease, Excessive Sitting.”

American Heart Association: “Smokers Who Quit Cut Heart Disease Risk Faster Than Previous Estimates,”

“Top 10 Myths About Cardiovascular Disease,” “How To Get Your Cholesterol Checked,” “Alcohol and Heart Health,” “FAQs of Atrial Fibrillation.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Overweight and Heart Disease.”

Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director, Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health, New York University.

Estruch, R. The New England Journal of Medicine, April 2013.

Lichtman, J. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, February 2015.

National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute: “How Does Smoking Affect the Heart and Blood Vessels?” “Heart Attack.”

Shah, A. Journal of the American Heart Association, June 2014.

Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, director, women and heart disease, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; author, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book.

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on February 04, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.